Uhuru: Wataffi’s Afro-centric offering

Soundtrack Freeman Makopa

AFRO-FUSION vocalist Willis Wataffi first hogged the limelight as part of Afrika Revenge – an exciting young group also made up of Mehluli Moyo – with the release of hits such as Wanga and Anochengeta.

The band, however, did not last long as a unit following Moyo’s departure. Left to himself, Wataffi continued with his music and eventually launched a solo
career under difficult circumstances in 2007.

With Afrika Revenge having won 10 awards within 18 months at the height of their prominence with Wataffi as the songwriter and lead vocalist, setting up a solo
career proved to be a tough call for Moyo as there was little acceptance, which forced the musician to go to Mozambique where he believed the grass to be
greener.

Wataffi and Moyo briefly came together and dropped the gem, Wanga, stoking hopes of an imminent reunion among fans, which, however, never came. The spirit of
Wanga, that classic tune about a young Zimbabwean man with nothing on his name, provided an irresistibly catchy chorus that was about to be reawakened.

However, the reunion did not last, forcing Wataffi to pursue a solo career once more, in the process releasing a single titled Ngaavongwe, which also topped
the charts.

Things are now turning in Wataffi’s favour. He recently disclosed that everyone was doing their own things.

Wataffi said he never left Afrika Revenge, but everyone just started their own brands and projects. He now has five award-winning albums under his belt —
Zhizha (2007) Qaya Roots (2009), Harare EP (2012), Songs of David (2016), Nhema EP (2018) and the latest offering, Uhuru/Independence (2019).

Wataffi’s new album was inspired by the passion to focus on what true independence Africa should imply.

“My previous album, Qaya Roots, does the same. So, let’s fix the spiritual side of the country. The repatriation of all stolen artefacts and our ancestors’
skulls and implements (in European museums) is the beginning of freedom for Zimbabwe,” he said.

In his new album, Wataffi ventured into a collaboration with Mbuya Stella Chiweshe on the song Mashayamombe, an introspection on the need to restore all lost
legacies of Africa and repatriation of the country’s lost heritage, holed up in the museums of Britain. It is a call for the repatriation of the skeletal
remains of some of the country’s ancient spiritual leaders as well as stolen artefacts, including Mashayamombe’s staff and the Zimbabwe bird.

“The troubles of Africa are spiritual and I feel the leaders aren’t taking this seriously. Once there is a proper burial of all these, then we will begin our
transition to total independence. Let’s fix things in the spiritual realm first,” he said passionately.

In the song Humambo, Wataffi talks about ego-centric leadership and explores the irony of having 54 national leaders in Africa, a continent with less than 1,5
billion people. He proposes a political paradigm shift, in which countries can be led by governors, with just one President for the continent as part of
efforts to establish the United States of Africa. This is a concept former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi tried to push, but it found few takers.

In the title track, Wataffi explores the truth about “independent” people that are, however, not “free”. He is disturbed by the irony that Africa is
potentially the richest continent, but does not have full control over its natural resources and wealth. The musician urges the new generation to start taking
responsibility so that their children inherit a debt-free and functional Africa.

In his new, Afro-centric offering, Wataffi calls the people of Africa back to the sourcem adding that away from the roots, there could be no progress.

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